Friday, July 23, 2010

Don't Toss Your Days to the Wind

JANICE:  Keep a journal. Tom and I both have journals. His is as much a sketch book  as a writing book. This entry he did while sitting in the Piazza de la Rotunda in Rome.

My journal is Italian leather with gold-edged pages. Elegant. For me a journal is private and close to my heart, not for publication like a blog. I don't write in it every day but at least once a week or when an event or thought demands expression. Occasionally I add photographs, copies of letters, Tom's sketches and book illustrations. And I always create a title page using an image. My current journal begins with an image from an ancient Greek vase because my work-in-progress, Ariadne's Choice, is based on the myth of the minotaur.

Once, in Venice, I lost my journal, the nightmare of any writer. I left it on a table in a restaurant where Tom and I had lunch. When we returned it was gone. Why would anyone steal a journal? We searched nearby canals, thinking maybe the person saw that the book was worthless and tossed it in the water. But no, we found nothing. To relieve my agony I bought a Venetian journal covered in marbled paper, and we spent the evening in the Piazzetta listening to music, watching a full moon rise over the Bacino, and writing in our journals. So, agony and ecstasy.

Two of my book characters keep journals as well. In Willow Creek Home (Book Two of A Texas Trilogy) Papa brings Mina a leather bound book from Fredericksburg, and she makes her first entry that very night. Sophie's War is a historical novel written as a journal. In that story Sophie loses her journal but finds it. Otherwise there would not be a book!

Thomas Jefferson said that writing in a journal "eases the mind." Margaret Mitchell and I say, if you don't keep a journal your days are gone with the wind. You will never remember the intensity of the moment. I only wish I had started journaling earlier, but it's never too late. Whether you are eight or eighty, start now.